I. Briefing of Chinese Copyright

The copyright protection system of China is established based on the Constitution, Civil Law, Criminal Law, Heritage Law and Copyright Law. The current Copyright Law makes comparatively clear and complete regulations on copyright and its protection, it is the basic law of China on copyright protection.

The Copyright Law was approved by the 15th Meeting of the 7th Session of the Executive Committee of the People's Congress of China, and became effective on June 1, 1991. On October 27, 2001, it was amended based on the Decision on Amendments of the Copyright Law of the People's Republic of China made by the 24th Meeting of the 9th Session of the Executive Committee of the People's Congress of China. On May 30, 1991, The Chinese Copyright Bureau, approved by the Chinese State Council, promulgated the Implementing Regulations of the Copyright Law of the People's Republic of China, which also became effective on June 1, 1991. The State Council amended the Implementing Regulations based on the amended Copyright Law, and the new Implementing Regulations was promulgated on August 2, 2002 and became effective on September 15, 2002.

In addition, to regulate the protection of computer software copyrights, the Chinese State Council promulgated the Protection Regulations on Computer Software on June 4, 1991, which became effective on October 1, 1991.

China also joined Berne Convention on July 10, 1992, this Convention became effective in China on October 15, 1992. China further joined World Copyright Convention on July 30, 1992, this Convention became effective in China on October 30, 1992.

(I) Subject of Copyright (Copyright Owner)

  1. Author, citizen directly creates the work, including independent author and co-authors

  2. Legal person author, legal person or non-legal person organization, in charge of the creation of work, the work created on behalf of the willingness of them and they bear responsibility for the work;

  3. Successor through heritage: in addition to the right of publication of succeeded work, successors normally can only enjoy economic rights but not mental rights

  4. Person or legal person obtained copyright through contract, if there is no contract or contract does not regulate the ownership, the copyright belongs to the requestee

  5. Where the copyright owner is a legal person or non-legal person organization and it is changed or terminated, the right of use and obtaining rewards of the copyright belong to the legal person or non-legal person organization through heritage.

  6. The State, if there is no successor of the copyrights due to change or termination of legal person or non-legal person organization, the copyright belongs to the State

(II) Main rights of Copyright Owner endowed by the Chinese Copyright Law

  1. Right of publication, namely right to decide whether to publish the work

  2. Right of signature, namely right to sign on the work and right to identify himself/itself as the author

  3. Right of amendment, namely right to amend or authorize other people to amend the work

  4. Right to maintain the completeness of the work, namely right to against un-authorized amendment or distortion of the work

  5. Right to use and obtain rewards, namely right to copy, perform, display, exhibit, release, filming, televising, recording and adapting, translation, indicating, etc. and obtain rewards by licensing other people to use the work through the aforementioned ways.

II. Registration of Copyright

The Chinese Copyright Law was promulgated in 1990 and became effective on June 1, 1991. Since China joined Berne Convention in October 1992, when a work is completed in one of the member state of the Berne Convention, it enjoys copyright protection in China automatically. However, to a work finished in a non-member state, to enjoy copyright protection, the work should be first published in a member state of Berne Convention. The protection term of Chinese copyright to an individual author is the whole life and the 50 years after death, if the author is an entity, it is 50 years from the first publication of the work.

In accordance with the Chinese law and practice, it is not compulsory to register copyright of a work, however, registration is suggested in order to handle copyright disputes more conveniently, this is because the registration certificate can be regarded as a prima facie evidence of ownership.

To obtain a copyright registration in China, a foreign applicant must entrust a Chinese agency to file an application with the Chinese Copyright Office. The Chinese Copyright Office has its branch offices in each province or municipality, like the Shanghai Copyright Office, to handle the application and issue the registration certificate which is valid nationwide in China.

(I) Necessary Informaiton and Requirements

  1. Name(s), address(es), zip code, nationality(ies) of the copyright owner(s), name and telephone number of the person to contact; evidence(s) showing the identification of the copyright owner(s), i.e., 

   1) For individual owner (including the heir of copyright), notarized copy of identification card.

   2) For entity as owner, notarized copy of business license, etc..

  2. Name(s), address(es), zip cope, nationality(ies), birthday(s), date(s) of death (if deceased), number(s) of the identification card(s) of the author(s); name and telephone number of the person to contact.

  3. Power of Attorney, which shall be signed and dated by the copyright owner(s); if there are more than one owners, the Power of Attorney may be signed either by all owners, or by one owner representing all the other owners together with an authorization to said owner by all the other owners. 

  4. A brief description of the work to be registered.

  5. Data relating to the work.

   1) The title, type and date of completion of the work. 

   2) Whether or not the work has ever been published, if yes, date and place of its first publication; title, issue/volume and page numbers of series/collection/journal/ magazine in which the work was once published and date of the publication; 

   3) If in deductive form, the title and registration number (if any) of the original work, type of the deductive form, such as the recomposed, the translated, the compiled, the rearranged and the annotated, etc.; 

  6. If the copyright of the work has been licensed to a third party, then, 

   1) Notarized copy of the license contract; 

   2) Name, address (including post code) of the licensee; 

   3) Information on the method and duration of the license; 

   4) Name and telephone number of the person to contact to (if any).

  7. Notarized copy of commissioning contract for a commissioned work. 

  8. Notarized copy of assignment from the original owner to the current copyright owner(s) if the copyright has been assigned.

(II) Notes: 

  1. If there is a group of works which are published on newspaper/magazine/journal within one year, these works may be registered at the same time in one application and pay one registration fee. 

  2. A registration application for supplements to the same work may be filed with the routine filing fee. However, supplements can be only added to the work's contents, no change is acceptable.